Story at a glance
- New York's largest health care system stopped most prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine.
- Earlier this week, the antimalarial drug was banned in France and reviewed in Italy and Belgium.
Multiple U.S. hospitals are reportedly restricting their use of hydroxychloroquine, the controversial anti-malarial drug the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved to treat severe coronavirus illnesses as recent studies have documented its adverse health effects and limited benefits.
Reuters reports that several hospitals have confirmed that they have halted using hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, and that orders for the drug have fallen since its peak in late March.
This news comes as multiple European medical institutions have either banned or issued strong warnings regarding the drug’s ability to help ailing coronavirus patients versus its capacity to improve patient conditions.
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Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state, decided to cease prescribing hydroxychloroquine in mid-April after clinical data emerged that called its benefits into question.
“People were in our hospitals, they were dying, and we wanted to do something,” Thomas McGinn, the deputy physician in chief at Northwell Health, told Reuters. “But the minute the data came out ... showing no benefit and potential harm, I think we all needed to step back.”
Other health care facilities have been reconsidering their approach to hydroxychloroquine as well. On Thursday, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) “ratcheted down” the use of the drug, according to Secretary Robert Wilkie.
Moreover, Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, confirmed that there is no data that shows hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating COVID-19.
"Clearly the scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy for it," Fauci said during a CNN interview.
The drug gained notoriety when President Trump said that he had been taking doses of it daily for about a week and a half. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president “would take it again if he thought he was exposed.”
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